An epic scale of construction that 'becomes' the site.
Ara lies at the confluence of Marlborough’s Wairau and Waihopi rivers covering 1,600 hectares of river terrace.
Ara’s vision is to produce wines that express the site’s unique characteristics. They have invested in an holistic and multi-disciplined master-planning process for the vineyard as a whole – a five year collaborative process involving representatives of Winegrowers of Ara, Warren and Mahoney, Boffa Miskell, Hillary Priest Architects, and Designworks.
The architectural approach continues the evolutionary process that formed the land upon which Ara lies, treating the 9 km x 3 km site as a canvas that can be manipulated to create elevation, depression, threshold and shelter.
The award winning Dart is the first of a family of buildings planned. The architecture has an intimate and direct relationship with the environment; raw, stand-alone and sculptural in form. The materials used externally and internally are almost exclusively natural, reinforcing the theme that the architecture and the landscape are interrelated. Locally sourced raw materials were used to create concrete cladding panels and other construction elements, with the objective being to build a long-term legacy.
Standing nine metres above the vines the Dart is clearly visible across the vineyard. Named for the dynamic form of its roof, the Dart folds down and over to the north-west and south-west; at the same time the site rises up to cradle the building’s western end. Beneath this arrowhead sit large storage areas and workshops. Earth mounds cradle the western flanks, creating a sheltered courtyard. The sense of containment, and the framing of the sky that the courtyard achieves is an intentional move to provide relief and counterpoint to the otherwise unrelenting expansiveness of the site.
The Dart was designed both as an oasis – an indoor and outdoor place for staff to rest, socialise and plan together as a team - and as a storehouse and workshop for equipment and materials. These needs imply very different architectural responses. The simple unified programme however fulfils the brief within one integrated structure and form, thereby creating a new and unique typology of vineyard building.